Repeat patronage is clearly critical to restaurant operators' success, but their guests' intent to return - and their reasons for doing so - vary considerably by generation, according to a white paper from US-based food industry insights firm Technomic. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

The white paper, entitled 'Keep 'Em Coming Back: Customer Loyalty and What Drives a Generation to Return', used data from the company's Consumer Brand Metrics (CBM) programme and found that more consumers will return in the near future to Papa Murphy's Pizza and In-N-Out Burger than any other restaurant tracked.

Papa Murphy's scores are driven by Generation X and Baby Boomers, while more Millennials than members of other generations say they'll soon return to In-N-Out Burger.

"Millennials are looking for restaurants that not only satisfy their hunger, but that they can feel good about," explained Darren Tristano, executive vice president for Technomic. "Older consumers, on the other hand, place a higher priority on atmosphere and service."

Among the highlights of the white paper:

  • In-N-Out Burger and Papa Murphy's Pizza garner the strongest intent to return. More consumers strongly agree that "I will return to this restaurant in the near future" for Papa Murphy's Pizza (54%) and In-N-Out Burger (52%) than for any other restaurant tracked in the programme. While limited-service chains, which are visited more frequently overall, generally outperform full-service concepts on this attribute, both Cracker Barrel (46%) and Texas Roadhouse (44%) rank in the top fifteen restaurants overall.
  • Among Millennials, In-N-Out Burger is the chain most likely to be revisited. Millennials place greater emphasis on the concept's brand image, agreeing more strongly than other generations that In-N-Out Burger supports local community activities, offers new and exciting products and is an innovative brand.
  • Generation X-ers and Boomers are especially likely to say they'll revisit Papa Murphy's soon. Their motivations for returning differ, as Generation X rates the brand most favourably on cleanliness, convenient location and beverage quality, while Boomers score the chain most highly on service attributes, such as staff friendliness and payment handling.